Minister halts investigation of teachers for refusing pro-army anthem

Ahram Online , Thursday 26 Sep 2013

Five teachers from Egypt's Delta city of Mahalla were referred for investigation after refusing to play a pro-military anthem during their school's morning line-up

Students line up and raise their hands on the first day of their new school year at a government school in Giza, south of Cairo September 22,(Photo: Reuters).

Egypt's Minister of Education Mahmoud Abul Nasr has halted an investigation of 5 teachers for refusing to play a pro-military anthem at a primary school in the Nile Delta governorate of Gharbiya.

Fatma Khedr, the Egyptian deputy minister of education in the governorate of Gharbiya, had referred these teachers for investigation earlier on Thursday after they allegedly refused to play the pro-army anthem "Teslam al-Ayadi" during the morning line up at a primary school in Mahala.

Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported that a verbal exchange broke out between students and the 5 teachers who refused to play the anthem, which prompted a protest by students' parents. It was the parents' anger that drove the Gharbiya ministry official – according to Al-Ahram – to refer the teachers for investigation.

After learning of the incident, according Al-Ahram Arabic, Abul Nasr contacted Khedr and ordered her to halt the investigation immediately. Abul Nasr said he was appalled by the incident, and that he had ordered schools to include only the national anthem in their morning line-ups.

The controversial anthem was released shortly after the military removed former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from power on 3 July following mass protests against him, and it is laden with nationalistic lyrics glorifying the Egyptian military.

Quickly becoming a symbol of support for the army's intervention against Muslim Brotherhood-led government, the anthem is met with antipathy by supporters of the former president who view his ousting as a military coup against a legitimate leader.

The anthem was also subject to considerable ridicule for its ultra-nationalistic tone and brazenly positive portrayal of the Egyptian army - which came under severe criticism during their transitional rule following the 2011 revolution.

While most political groups opposing the Muslim Brotherhood were supportive of Morsi's overthrow, some remained sceptical of the army. Others turned against the army in response to the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins in August that resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.

According to news reports during the past week, the anthem has caused a number of scuffles in schools in several governorates.

As schools opened their doors in September, other incidents also reflected the country's deep political divisions.
One such incident involved a school girl raising four fingers -- a hand-signal coined after the violent dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in – in the presence of Abul Nasr on Wednesday.

In the governorate of Damietta, the education ministry has banned students from wearing the yellow Rabaa Al-Adawiya solidarity motif in schools, or displaying insignia on their notebooks or belongings. The yellow Rabaa motif has been raised in pro-Morsi protests across Egypt since the sit-in's dispersals on 14 August.

After Morsi's removal, a transitional political roadmap was drawn up jointly by the army and Morsi's opposition. The roadmap proposed parliamentary and presidential elections and amendments to the 2012 constitution. The constitution is currently being amended by a committee representing various sectors of Egyptian society.

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